Law: Making War on WAR

An Alabama civil rights advocate invokes liability doctrine in a bid to drive a California race-hatred monger out of business

Angry knots of buzz-cut skinheads and helmeted police circled each other warily in the halls of Oregon's Multnomah County courthouse last week. Close by, in a marble-pillared courtroom hidden behind security gates, two men stood before a civil court judge and began a legal duel that involved an unusual amalgam of crimes and punishments: charges of murder and racism, to be measured by the strictures of tort liability. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," intoned civil rights crusader Morris Dees, "we're going to ask you to return a verdict so big that it will put Tom Metzger out of business."

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